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Roscoe Wizzle notices many things. For instance, the way really weird situations can seem really normal. Or how "you never really know what you're going to think or when you're going to think it." Or the fact that there are "at least five different kinds of minutes"--from the Rubber Band to the Firecracker to the Sleeping Beauty. But the one thing that Roscoe somehow doesn't notice is that he is transmogrifying into a giant bug. (Roscoe quickly recounts the possible reasons for this oversight, beginning with "1. I don't spend much time looking into a mirror. Why should I? I am only ten years old.")
What's worse is that this transformation might have something to do with the way kids have been disappearing from all over Roseville, including Charlie Bog and Judy Pongarongatong. And, however unlikely it may seem, there could be some connection with Gussy's--the place that serves Jungle Drum burgers alongside Jungle fries and Quicksand shakes.
Will Roscoe and his "certified genius" pal Kinchy suss out what's up before it's too late and Roscoe's become a bug for good? Sit back and let Roscoe tell the tale, and--in between hearing about Roscoe's dad the cymbal tester and why an almost 74-year-old secretary became a jujitsu black belt--you'll surely find out. David Elliott, all wry wit, seems to have had quite a good time with his debut novel. (Ages 7 to 10) --Paul Hughes
Elliott's (The Cool Crazy Crickets) entertaining and energetic middle-grade novel stars fourth-grader Roscoe Wizzle (whose greatest fear is that "a comet will strike the earth when I am in the bathtub"). He leads a fairly ordinary life, despite his quirky parents (Waldo, a cymbal tester, and Wilma, who grew up in an orphanage) and their practice of serving him alternating dinners of mashed potatoes and tuna surprise ("When I was an orphan, I never got any kind of surprise at all," Wilma tells him). But after a Gussy's Restaurant franchise is built atop an empty lot which is rumored to be oddly polluted, strange things start happening. First, Roseville's children begin disappearing. Then, after months of nightly meals at Gussy's (his relieved parents find it a good alternative to cooking), Roscoe finds himself undergoing a Kafka-esque metamorphosis. Could it be his steady diet of Jungle Drums ("just about the biggest hamburgers in the world")? With the help of his brainy best friend, the vegetarian and junior anthropologist Kinshasa Rosa Parks Boomer, Roscoe solves the mystery and helps rescue his kidnapped schoolmates. Colorful plot twists and character names from Roscoe's teacher, Bernard W. Pinchbeck, to Judy Pongarongatong combine with sassy first-person narration and snappy dialogue to skew the proceedings a few thoroughly enjoyable degrees off normal. Ages 7-10.
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